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Dean Heller On Mortgage Reforms

Heller Voted to Terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program. On March 29, 2011, Heller voted to terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program meant to prevent mortgage foreclosures. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The House voted 252 to 170 to end the Obama administration’s main mortgage foreclosure prevention program, saying the much-criticized initiative has been ineffective and given false hope to hundreds of thousands of homeowners who ultimately lost their homes anyway. The vote […] follows votes this month […] to end three smaller federal programs designed to help homeowners and communities deal with the foreclosure crisis. […] HAMP is the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s efforts to keep struggling homeowners in their houses but has drawn bipartisan criticism for failing to meet its objectives. It was launched with great fanfare in early 2009 with the goal of helping 3 million to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure through 2012 by providing cash incentives for lenders to reduce monthly payments. Funded with as much as $30 billion from the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, HAMP has permanently lowered payments for about 540,000 homeowners through January.” [Roll Call 198, H 839, 03/29/2011; Los Angeles Times, 03/30/11]

170,000 Nevadan Homeowners Are Underwater On Their Mortgages. “The financial firm First American CoreLogic reports that 170,000 mortgage holders in Nevada owe more than 25 percent above their home’s value. In a state with a jobless rate now higher than 10 percent, bankruptcy may be the option of last resort for those cases, experts have said.” [Las Vegas Sun, 5/3/09]

Heller Has Taken Over $358,000 From Real Estate Interests. According to the non-partisan Center For Responsive Politics, Senator Dean Heller has taken at least $358,450,098 in federal campaign contributions from real estate interests throughout his career. [Opensecrets.org accessed 6/24/2011]

Heller Voted to Terminate Neighborhood Stabilization Program. On March 16, 2011, Heller voted in favor of terminating a neighborhood stabilization program designed to aid redevelopment in cities with large numbers of vacant properties. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “HR861 would end a Neighborhood Stabilization Program that gives money to state and local governments to buy and resell foreclosed properties. Only $1 billion remains in this program.” [Roll Call 188, H 861, 03/16/2011; San Francisco Chronicle, 03/10/11]

Heller Voted to Terminate Mortgage Relief Program. On March 11, 2011, Heller voted to terminate the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program that provides mortgage relief to unemployed homeowners. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “HR836 would end the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program. This $1 billion program will give forgivable, zero-interest loans to unemployed homeowners so they can pay their mortgage. The maximum assistance per homeowner is $50,000 or two years, whichever comes first. It will be available, starting in September, in 32 states excluding California that are not receiving money from the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, which has not been targeted for elimination.” [Roll Call 174, H 836, 03/11/2011; San Francisco Chronicle, 03/10/11]

Heller Voted to Terminate Refinancing Program for Underwater Borrowers. On March 10, 2011, Heller voted for a bill that would terminate the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Refinance Program that was established to provide refinancing assistance to homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home. According to the New York Times, “Struggling homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth have had few options to restructure their loans, but that may soon be changing for a few of them. Six months after the Federal Housing Administration announced an $11 billion refinancing initiative for these ‘underwater’ borrowers, nearly two dozen lenders have agreed to take part in a new loan modification program. […] The F.H.A. program — called Short Refi — requires major concessions from lenders, which must agree to write off at least 10 percent of the principal balance, and from investors, who, if they own the mortgage, must also agree to the deal. To qualify, homeowners must be current on their monthly mortgage payments and not already have an F.H.A. loan. The size of the new primary loan cannot be more than 97.75 percent of the current value of the property; refinanced loans for homeowners whose properties carry second liens cannot exceed 15 percent of the property value. […] Even so, it faces challenges in Congress; on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to end it.” [Roll Call 171, H 830, 03/10/2011; New York Times, 03/13/11]

Heller Voted To Terminate Refinancing Program. Heller voted to end the Federal Housing Authority refinancing program that “assisted homeowners with underwater loans.” Heller said, ““This program is not working for our state. Many federal programs were created with good intentions, however, we must have the courage to eliminate the programs that do not work.” His Republican colleague Joe Heck disagreed, ““A failed P.R. job should not be the reason a good program dies. The FHA refinancing program can be a good program, but it needs more attention, and perhaps reform, so homeowners know it’s an option.” [Las Vegas Sun, 3/10/11]

Heller Voted Against Providing Legal Assistance to Homeowners Facing Foreclosure. On December 17, 2010 Heller voted against allowing the Treasury secretary to use unobligated funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to provide legal assistance to homeowners of owner-occupied homes who have mortgages that are in default or delinquency, or in danger of default or delinquency, or are subject to or at risk of foreclosure. According to Congressional Quarterly Today, “The House on Friday rebuffed legislation to provide legal aid to homeowners in states with the highest unemployment rates and sharply declining home prices. The House voted, 210-145, to reject the motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill (HR 5510). A two-thirds majority of those present and voting was required to advance the measure. The bill would allow states eligible for Hardest Hit Fund assistance to designate unused money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for legal-aid services to homeowners facing foreclosure.” [Roll Call 655, H 5510, 12/17/2010; Congressional Quarterly Today, 12-17-10]

Dean Heller Voted Against $4 Billion In Housing Relief. Dean Heller voted against HR 4173. It included a provision to provide $4 billion for housing relief for homeowners struck by the financial crisis. The funds were allocated from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). [Vote #968, 12/11/2009]

Heller Opposed Allowing Judges To Modify Loans For Struggling Homeowners. Heller opposed a housing bill that would allow judge to adjust the mortgages of financially stressed owners. Bankruptcy judges could “lengthen loan terms, reduce interest rates and cut principal owed on homes belonging to bankruptcy filers.” The bill would help an estimated 1 million homeowners. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/8/09]

Heller Voted against Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009. In 2009, Heller voted against the Helping Families Save their Home Act. The bill allowed bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, made permanent an increase in the insurance limit for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The bill made several changes to the Hope for Homeowners Program, which guarantees mortgages to help refinance at-risk borrowers into viable mortgages. It also provided a “safe harbor” to mortgage servicers that participate in mortgage modification programs. The provisions that related to mortgage modifications only applied to mortgages issued before the bill’s enactment. The bill passed 234-191. [Vote #104, 3/5/2009; CQBill Analysis HR1106]

Dean Heller Voted For Amendment To Allow Lenders To Recapture Lost Principal If Home With Modified Mortgage Is Sold At A Profit. Dean Heller voted for an amendment that would allow lenders to recapture funds up to the amount of principal lost in a mortgage modification if a homeowner sells the home at a profit. [Vote #101, 3/5/2009]

Heller Voted Against Grants and Loans for Foreclosed Properties, Housing Assistance for Working Families. In May 2008, Heller voted against a bill that would establish a loan and grant program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for states and localities to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed properties. The bill would authorize $7.5 billion for zero-interest loans and $7.5 billion for grants. The bill would direct states to allocate funds to the 100 largest cities with high foreclosure rates and 50 most populous counties. Properties purchased for rental with the funds could serve only families having incomes at or below the area’s median income. The bill passed 239-188. [Vote #299, 5/8/2008; Congressional Quarterly]

Heller Voted Against Mortgage Relief. On October 10, 2007, Heller voted against mortgage relief. According to the New York Times, “House Democrats squared off against the Bush administration yesterday over measures to help homeowners trapped in a vise of unaffordable subprime mortgages and falling home prices. The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill that would require the nation’s two government-sponsored mortgage finance companies and the Federal Housing Administration’s insurance program to channel up to $900 million a year into a new fund for affordable housing.” [Roll Call 958, H 2895, 10/10/2007; New York Times, 10/11/07]